Maybe in a hundred years they will call it the Justin Verlander Award.
In about a third as many innings pitched, tonight Justin Verlander surpassed Cy Young on the all-time strikeout list, his eight strikeouts tonight gave him 2809, three more than the great Cy Young.
Here is one of his most unforgettable K’s. It came in his shutout of the New York Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, the greatest playoff game ever pitched by a Houston Astro.
Elias Sports has Cy Young at 2,806 Strikeouts, Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs have him at 2,803. Anyone know why the difference in count?— The Crawfish Boxes (@CrawfishBoxes) June 2, 2019
Either way, hoping to be celebrating another notch in this legends belt.#Astros #tigers#TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/a1JWguZUMK
Tonight it was fitting for Justin Verlander to surpass the greatest pitching legend in baseball, because he did it with all the grit and utter determination that has been the hallmark of his career. In the bottom of the eighth, with his team coddling a 3-1 lead, and with Oakland A’s on first and second and slugger Matt Olson at the plate, manager A.J. Hinch came to the mound. Verlander was well over 100 pitches at that point, and after just walking Matt Chapman, it was a certainty that Justin was getting the hook.
But somehow, he convinced the manager to leave him in. Of course, even after 100 pitches, who do you trust more than Justin Verlander? Verlander bore down on Olson like no one else all game, blazing his fastest 98 MPH’s right by him. On a 3-2 count this was the last pitch Verlander threw all night, and the last one Olson saw.
Maybe you have a chance tomorrow, Oakland.
Justin Verlander will surpass many more baseball pitching legends before joining the Hall of Fame himself, yet there will still be a few left with more strikeouts than he when he is done. But he will never be surpassed in terms of undaunted will to win.
Of course, a pitcher can’t win a freegame all by himself, and the depleted Astros lineup produced more than enough runs behind Verlander to put the A’s 9.5 games behind the Astros, and ensure that when the hobbled Astros leave town, the A’s will be further behind the Stros than when they came into town.
The main offensive hero of tonight for the second straight night was Josh Reddick, who hit his second home run in two nights, a two run shot to put the Astros in the lead 2-1 in the fourth.
The Astros added another run in the fourth when Jake Marisnick doubled off the center field wall. Alex Bregman followed with a blooped, short pop up behind first base on a ball that should have been caught, scoring Marisnick from second.
The Astros concluded the scoring in the ninth on a two run, 427 foot home run by Robinson Chirinos, which scored Josh Reddick, who led off with a single.
Justin Verlander did allow his obligatory solo home run, this one in the second to Stephen Piscotty, and he got some help from his friends in the field. Another one of the Astros rookies came up big in his pitcher’s defense again tonight. This time it was the blazing Myles Straw who robbed Robbie Grossman of a double after the Piscotty homer.
Tomorrow Gerrit Cole (5-5, 4.02 ERA) faces Chris Bassitt, (3-1, 3.27 ERA) as the Astros go for the sweep. The A’s just recently had won ten straight games, but have now lost four in a row. Game time 3:07 CDT.
Box score and videos HERE.